Don’t toss those cereal boxes. Upcycle them into one-of-a-kind pendant lights.
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The first thing to know about papier-mâché: It's messy but in a fun, squish between-your-fingers way. And the cleanup isn't hard. Wear an apron and cover your work surface with plastic, then let yourself go. Our modern paper sculpture projects, like this pendant light, start with our paste recipe. You'll likely find all the ingredients on your pantry shelf. To create this cylinder, cut flexible cardboard (our choice—a cereal box) and seal the seam with masking tape. Finish with a couple of coats of chalk paint and copper leafing.

papier mache light shades
Credit: Carson Downing

How to Make a Papier-Mâché Pendant

Supplies Needed

Papier-Mâché Paste

  • Water
  • Salt
  • Flour

Pendant Materials

  • Thin cardboard cereal box
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun and hot-glue
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Masking tape
  • Thick cardboard
  • Pendant socket and cord set
  • Crafts knife
  • Paintbrush
  • White primer
  • Chalk paint
  • Leafing adhesive
  • Sponge paintbrush
  • Copper leaf

Step-by-Step Directions

Copper leaf dresses up the inside of these pendant shades. Use a LED bulb for safety.

Step 1: Make the Papier-Mâché Paste

Heat 2 cups of water and 1 Tbsp. salt in a saucepan on medium. In a bowl whisk ½ cup flour with ½ a cup of cold water until lump-free; add to the pan. Gently boil, stirring for 2–3 minutes, until the mixture thickens to a pudding-like consistency. Allow to cool before using.

Step 2: Form Shape

Lay down a plastic table cover to protect your workspace. Tear newspaper into 1-inch wide strips and then tear into short pieces. Flatten thin cardboard box and cut apart at seams. Add hot glue to one edge of the cardboard. Measure and mark ½-inch along one of the long sides. Hot glue two ½-inch strips from small side pieces below the marked line. Form cylinder by overlapping on open short sides and secure with hot glue. Tape along both seams.

Step 3: Add Lighting Components

Cut bamboo skewers into four 3-inch pieces. Cut out two 3 ½-inch cardboard circles. Trace pendant fixture in the center of each circle and cut hole slightly larger using crafts knife. Ensure the pendant fits loosely before proceeding. Evenly place skewer pieces between both cardboard circles. Hot glue to secure and let dry. Place skewers onto the inner cereal box ledge and hot glue to secure. Secure with masking tape.

Step 4: Papier-Mâché the Shape

Lay down a plastic table cover to protect your workspace. Tear newspaper into 1-inch wide strips and then tear into short pieces. Coat strips of newspaper, removing excess paste by sliding strips between fingers. Lay vertically until the pendant is covered inside and out. Place a blown-up balloon in the cylinder to maintain its shape and set it in a bowl while working. Place a layer horizontally and let dry. Repeat layering and drying steps until the structure is rigid. Cover skewers and center circle with smaller strips of the newspaper; let dry overnight.

Step 5: Paint

Add white primer to the outside and inside of the pendant and let dry. Paint using two coats of chalk-finish paint and let dry. Apply leafing adhesive to the inside of the shade and apply copper leafing using a sponge brush. Once completely dry, add the pendant fixture and hang.

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